P.S. Feel free to expand the story notes at the bottom for more info about how it came to be!
P.S. Feel free to expand the story notes at the bottom for more info about how it came to be!
A bit late on this, but my Strange Horizons story posted!
Also, got an acceptance from Daily SF! =D
Also, also, starting a new job, so haven’t updated my bibliography yet, haha.
Edit: Updating the bibliography was easier than I thought! I have a functional website that I update like a real professional, I promise!
Wow, I haven’t updated this in a while… To anyone who was loyal enough to stick around this long…damn, I’m impressed.
Anyway, I’m writing to mention two things!
I have a story coming out in Strange Horizons, probably in early 2020! :) :) Twitter announcement.
This website is kinda broken!
So, I think that any comments and attempts to use the Contact Us page probably aren’t working and haven’t been working for a while :( I write this because I’m pretty sure someone tried to do one of those things recently because I get an email when they fail to work. (The issue is that Google is auto-rejecting the website’s attempts to send me an email and instead they send me a security alert email. The last time it happened I tried to reconfigure security settings to fix it, but it looks like that didn’t stick, so what I probably need to do is switch to a better method of sending automated emails). It may have been a spammer or a scammer, but in case it was you, the person who is reading this right now, I’m sorry!
I’m not entirely sure when I’ll have time to fix the issue. I’m actually debating just rebuilding the website on a more modern blogging platform, which is a bigger project. If you want to contact me, please feel free to DM me on twitter. If you want to comment on a post then…I’m sorry. Although, if you really, really want to comment on a post, you can always just DM me the post and the comment and then if I do end up restoring functionality to this site or migrating these posts to a new site then I promise I will strongly consider posting the comment you wanted to post when I do that? (Who are you, mysterious contacter or commenter! I am really curious…)
Well, I finished Clarion West and survived and find myself entirely incapable of writing anything coherent on the topic. Well, a combination of incapability and laziness, with perhaps a smidge more weight to the latter. Anyway! S, a classmate of mine, wrote a thing, so I’ll just link to that. I think others may have written things too? But see laziness above.
My first and so far only published story is for sale as a part of the Unidentified Funny Objects 5 anthology! Also featuring stories by David Gerrold and Esther Friesner and Caroline Yoachim and other awesome folks. You could purchase such a book here if you had a desire to do so.
Also, some people reviewed that anthology and some reviews even touched on my story? Which is exciting and also scary because reasons. I looked a little and saw not bad things but am afraid to look further because many words have been written in author blogs about the insanity that comes from reading reviews.
I start a new job on Monday and while I get settled into that writing may take a back seat for a few months. I do have a few stories that I am shopping around to various markets, so maybe a publication will pop up, but it is more likely that they will collect more rejections, that I will add to my digital rejection tower from which I will stand atop so that I might gaze upon the far more substantial rejection towers of better authors.
Probably inappropriate to call it a hiatus when I’ve barely got this thing started in the first place and have been posting so infrequently. Anyway! My posting infrequency will become more severe!
I’m starting Clarion West next week and I’ll be doing that through the end of July. From what I’ve heard, spare/free time during CW is a shadow of a dream within your story’s character’s dream. So I probably won’t be writing any posts? It’s cool. If I end up making posts I’ll just delete this post and all three readers of my blog will know I’m a liar but they already knew that and won’t be able to prove it. Bwahahaha.
In all seriousness, thank you loyal readers! Without you I would be a lonely person desperate for attention throwing out random words onto what is basically a personal shrine/billboard. I am still that with you, but in a socially acceptable way. More socially acceptable the more of you there are actually. Societal mores are hilarious.
I’m excited to start/that is what I say because I still don’t really believe it is happening but that is the emotion I would have if I did believe it. I’ll try to write a post or two about it when I finish. :)
So, I actually heard about this a few weeks ago, but decided to be paranoid and wait to post anything until they sent the contract. A flash story of mine, Fantastic Coverage, (one of my Clarion West application stories, actually) will appear in Unidentified Funny Objects 5 this autumn!
For those unfamiliar, Unidentified Funny Objects is an annual anthology series of funny science fiction and fantasy short stories.
Thanks to the North and South Seattle writing groups for their critiques and to Two Hour Transport for the writing prompt :)
This will be my first professional publication. I’m pretty excited :)
So, last year I made my first short story submission. Before I could do that, I wrote the story.
Then I revised it. Then I revised it again. Then I got my writing group to critique it and revised it another time. I gave it to a few friends and parsed their statements, carefully separating honesty from kind lies (updating their annual friendship performance assessment documents appropriately) and revised it.
To eliminate awkward phrasing, I read it aloud to myself in normal, bass and falsetto voices and sang it to the tune of a randomly selected song from Queen’s Night at the Opera. I used a tarot deck and thesaurus to make the most ideal possible word choices. (With a ouija board to handle neologisms). Then I revised it again.
Eventually I convinced myself that I had managed to create a work of fiction that was not garbage. Or, at least, not the bad kind of garbage? It was…aluminum cans or reclaimed copper wire. The kind of garbage that you could maybe sell.
Found this (relatively high) in an image search for “garbage,” I’m sure for some entirely valid reason? Anyway, this bird is badass and now represents “good, sellable garbage.”
I submitted it, received a form rejection and decided that my story was definitely in the candy bar wrapper, six-pack plastic rings, used wet wipe category of garbage. Then I tried to forget that story existed.
So, rejection. My brain isn’t good at that yet. Evidence indicates this is a problem I share with a few others.
What I Want My Brain To Do
Logically, after a form rejection I know I don’t have enough data to shift my assessment of a story so dramatically. Good/great stories get rejected, often.
There are a ton of people submitting a ton of short stories out there. Editors may have published a similar story recently. It may not fit their market’s genre window/taste profile/inner fiction soul. Different people have different tastes in fiction, so no single story is going to tickle everyone’s gizzard (check everyone’s box? pinch everyone’s thimble? None of these phrases are spinning my satisfaction orb). Apparently, even the “pros” rack up rejections frequently.
I can use rejection as a chance for revision, but with a form rejection, I don’t actually have any new data. And if I’ve done my job correctly before submitting (see above re: multiple revision rounds, questionable divination practices, vocal wrangling, etc.) then revising in the “just rejected” state of mind seems more likely to damage than improve my story (at least for this author).
What I want to do is follow the general approved wisdom of “keep on submitting until you run out of appropriate markets while simultaneously working on newer, better stories and also, god, don’t get all angsty, Mitch, it’s just rejection, seriously.”
Since my brain does respond well to numbers and points and other kinds of gamification/achievement systems, I decided to see what I could do on that front. So, I created a submission tracking spreadsheet (a good thing to have anyway) and built a point system into it!
Here are the details:
Submitted (no response yet): 1 point
Form rejection: 2 points
Higher tier rejection (like a personal rejection, or a rejection after a hold notice): 5 points
Acceptance: 10 points
So each submission will end up netting 2, 5 or 10 points total.
I considered weighting acceptances higher (or lower) but like the balance now. I don’t want acceptance points to overwhelm the points you get for just keeping a story out there. And given that rejection is hard, I could make an argument for making acceptance worth the same (or fewer) points than form rejections.
With this system, every form rejection I receive means I get one additional submission point! And if I submit it again, I get another point! So, now I have a reason (a small, arbitrary and imaginary reason, but still a reason) to look forward to rejections.
Other things I’ve thought of (but not implemented) are giving more points based on number of words or scaling points based on how many days a story is on submission (or even negative points for gaps between receiving a response and sending it out again).
Right now, one could argue that this spreadsheet incentivizes me to write as much low-quality flash fiction as possible and submit it to the markets with the fastest turnaround times. Luckily, my general fiction writing inclinations counter-balance that influence. Even so, I may add new features in the future. At the moment, though, this is enough to help me take rejected stories and send them back out into the wild.
With this, I can set goals on getting a certain number of submission points per year, or month. I can hook it into other life gamification systems, like Habitica and promise myself rewards for certain submission point thresholds. The dinner I buy myself for hitting one thousand points is going to be…well, given the amount of food I’ll let myself eat, probably pretty disgusting.
Here’s a download link for a template version of the spreadsheet if you want to try it out. On the first tab you can update how many points each status is worth if you don’t like the default values. And please comment if you have your own mind hacks to deal with rejection, so that I may use them for personal gain.
On a different, but related vein, here’s a great post by Mary Robinette Kowal talking about writer’s block and depression and writing gamification.
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